Comment: Why is our profile so lack lustre? / Marcus Boyle Gambling Commission

Marcus Boyle Gambling Commission appointment
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Ours is such a creative industry so why is our profile so lack lustre?

Great PR and positive messaging is about reflecting what you are all about as an industry, so let’s get on with it.

 

When you see a great piece of PR it’s only right to recognise it, acknowledge it and most importantly to learn from it.

Such is the case with the latest policy statement to come out from the admittedly very well-resourced Betting and Gaming Council which trumpeted its support for the Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ with a pledge to create 5,000 apprenticeships over the next five years.

When you dissect a story and analyse the content the BGC statement delivers on a number of important levels. Journalists feast on facts and figures and this story contained two in the headline – namely 5,000 jobs over 5-years.

Furthermore, it proclaimed support for the Government’s plan for jobs – not a bad position to take at a time when said government is undertaking a once in a generation review of the industry and, we are led to believe, online is in its cross hairs.

Add to this a commitment to play a full part in the post-Covid recovery, investing in young people across the country and providing them with the skills required for a career in the sector and you can see the key ingredients of what is a powerful piece of content.

But the story goes deeper than that. The news – namely 5,000 jobs over the next 5-years – provides an opportunity to segue into other key empirically based messages.

The BGC (quite rightly) used the piece to press home employment statistics (119,000 jobs), contributions to the Treasury (£4.5bn) and gross value added to the UK economy (£7.7bn in 2019).

Add to this some carefully crafted quotes about high street regeneration courtesy of modern betting shops, Global Britain, supply chains, world-leading tech, UK productivity, supporting the national recovery, going the extra mile and tourism – and the result is what is a smorgasbord of positivity for a sector more accustomed to reaching for its hard hat.

The fact is that great PR sustained over a period of time can and does help shape perceptions.

For any organisation that might be reviewing its PR function at this crucial time the task is to be creative and to have courage.

This is not the time for cautious baby steps – our industry must start to think BIG and act accordingly.

 

Can Boyle put a lance to institutionalised prejudices at the Gambling Commission?

The appointment of Marcus Boyle to the post of Gambling Commission chair will blow like a breeze of fresh air around the industry. What it needs, though, is a hurricane to storm through the GC infrastructure which has transformed from a gambling regulator into something more akin to a semi-religious preacher. The industry wants its regulator back and for someone to finally lance the boil that puts posturing over policy every time.

 

Marcus Boyle is an interesting appointment at the Gambling Commission chair. To some, his selection is an indication that the government has had enough of the political posturing at the commission and wants its regulator to regulate.

It’s a big ask – and only time will tell whether Boyle will drive that kind of agenda forward.

But make no mistake – it’s a tough task too. For over a decade the Gambling Commission has effectively determined its own agenda, set its own parameters and its lead personnel have gleefully carried on the role of social and moral protectors.

Basically because each and every one of those key characters in the decision making roles have never had the skill, talent or interest to do the actual job of running a regulatory body.

They all found comfort in easy territory – the moral maze of gambling. Their job, however, was to perform the task of regulating an industry.

The two are very different. And the abject failings of the key operatives at the Gambling Commission for the best part of 12 years have led to an existential crisis for the regulator.

The Commission – and many within its ranks – believes its fighting for social justice. And that ideology has been encouraged to the point that its default position is always to regulate against the industry.

For fear of being too dramatic, it has become institutionally prejudiced against the very industry it’s there to regulate.

One football administrator famously said, football would be great if it weren’t for the players. There’s a sense of that ethos at the Gambling Commission – gambling would be great if it weren’t for the gambling operators.

It’s a bizarre challenge for the new chair. He needs to weed out the regulatory moralists and restore a sense of reason and fairness in its regulation.

The body needs to do its office job better and more efficiently, and most importantly, stop hurting an industry when it actually needs healing.

The industry knows full well what regulation means and what it entails. Strangely, the regulator hasn’t for the past decade – and still doesn’t.

It’s changed the rules to fashion its own vision of gambling and the way it should be – and worse, to fit in with its own competency.

And that’s a real problem for Marcus Boyle. There’s too many people out there saying that this Commission is incompetent – most on opposing sides of the gambling fence.

And it seems the government is coming to the same conclusion.

Can everyone be wrong?

 

 


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